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EGBA commends Irish gambling bill for ‘digital age’ approach

Ireland gambling industry overhaul

Ireland has taken a step forward in erecting nationwide gambling reforms by publishing its highly anticipated Gambling Regulation Bill, an event commended by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

The bill marks a significant milestone in the efforts of the Irish government to rejuvenate the gambling regulations at work in the country. It was approved by the Irish government last month and offers new regulations for both online and land-based gambling in Ireland.

This includes the creation of a new gambling regulatory body, problem gambling treatment, and a social fund to contribute to education. The bill also consists of a self-exclusion register for online gambling effective throughout the country, as well as new mandates for gambling advertisements and a restriction on credit cards when making gambling payments. It will create a licensing and regulatory regime for the gaming sector to modernize Irish gambling regulations further.

The EGBA, representing the leading online gambling operators in Europe, stated that it hoped the new bill and the gambling authority proposal would be “well sourced” and could go head to head with unlicensed gambling offers.

The association also held out hope that the new regulatory framework would allow for an open dialogue with Irish gambling operators as well as stakeholders and other gambling regulators to single out the best practices.

The Secretary General of EGBA, Maarten Haijer, commented on the milestone and praised James Browne — the Minister of State of Law Reform — and everyone else that worked to bring the bill to life. He also stated that the EGBA was in total support of the efforts by the government to implement modernized gambling regulations.

“Today is a significant milestone, and we congratulate Minister Browne and his team for bringing forward the Bill. EGBA fully supports the Irish government’s ongoing efforts to establish modern regulations that fit the digital age and bring the country’s regulatory framework into line with EU member states,” Haijer said.

“We look forward to the finalization of the Bill and engaging constructively with Irish policymakers to ensure the outcome is a well-functioning system of regulation that protects the interests of the many Irish citizens who gamble safely and recreationally, sets a high level of protection for consumers and those experiencing gambling-related harm, and provides clarity and long-term predictability for the gambling sector.”

In another section, the EGBA said it “fully supports” the self-exclusion register creation in the country. It also stated that it previously advocated for the move as an “essential safety net” for vulnerable gamblers.

Members of the EGBA have committed to advancing safer gambling within Ireland and elsewhere. In recent years, they have also heavily invested in a strong safer gambling culture within their businesses and how they handle interactions with customers and the rest of society.

The bill will follow the required parliamentary process, and its first reading in parliament is expected in early 2023. Upon receiving parliamentary approval, the bill may likely become law towards the end of 2023.

When the publication was initially approved last month by the Irish government, Minister Browne explained that the regulatory bill was a crucial factor in the Programme for Government and Justice Plan.

“Reforming gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland is a key commitment in our Programme for Government and Justice Plan and has been one of my key priorities as Minister. I am pleased to have gotten the draft legislation to this point and look forward now to it being published and brought through the Houses to enactment,” he said.

“This legislation will establish a gambling regulator which will be robust with a focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling and particularly protecting children, and also a focus on enforcement of a strong, modern regulatory framework for the gambling industry.”

Browne further warned prospective licensees of the consequences of operating without a license and providing gambling activities not under the provisions of their licenses.

“Operators who provide gambling activities without a gambling license issued by the Authority, or who do not operate in accordance with the provisions of their license could, if convicted, face up to eight years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts,” he said.

“Strict regulation of gambling advertising will be a priority area for the Authority. Under the legislation, advertising intended to appeal to children will be prohibited, as will advertising that promotes excessive or compulsive gambling.”

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